Monday, November 3, 2008

I'm just wasting my (and your) time

I was listening to a recent Skepticality podcast on "Where do we go from here?" and an important point being stressed was activism - the need for people (of all backgrounds - not just in science) to get out and promote critical and rational thinking.

It moved me - as you can see - to start a blog. I will likely follow in the footsteps of (or assist) Tim Farley in the development of tools (skeptools) but, for now, you can count on me to waste your time with the occasional blog posting. (For the record, Tim has no idea who I am -- yet.)

Wasting time is something that is generally reserved for Sunday mornings (yep, I'm a 6 on the 1-7 scale of "god belief"(1)). I will look to spend that time, promoting skepticism (or, to ensure a greater waste of your time by posting to this blog). So when others are out being told not to think, I'll be out there (or in here) encouraging people to do the complete opposite.

The common disclaimer that most people will insert is: Skepticism does not mean atheism(2). The idea of "you can be a skeptic and a believer" is commonly dispensed.

That disclaimer, from my view, is wrong. Having been brought up Catholic (sorry, I wasn't abused or anything - I think I was too tall, even on my knees, for our priest), I think that skepticism is not widely encouraged or accepted in the church. I firmly believe that an honest skeptic will have a hard time hanging on to a belief in a supernatural being when they're questioning other firmly held (and often less absurd than a belief in a sky fairy) beliefs.

I am an atheist(2) because I am a skeptic. I like the idea of "playing nice" to draw in believers to the world of skepticism but I don't feel that there is any reason to imply that skepticism and god belief are not incompatible.

(1) Richard Dawkins' book, "The God Delusion" lays out a scale of 1-7 for belief in god. 1 - Certitude that god exists. 7 - Certitude that god does not exist.

(2) The term "atheist" (as you'll read on a great number of other websites) is not a title for a group with a common belief - it is simply a title for a person with a lack of belief in god. I'm not comfortable with the term atheist, in a lot of ways, but I'm less comfortable with being wishy-washy.

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